Many thanks to all those who took the trouble to say how much the Communion video meant to them that makes the work more than worthwhile. If you have not seen it yet it is available via the link on our Facebook page, or here.
1 Corinthians 15: 51 – 54
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
A minister I know before she became a minister was a nurse, one who partly through her faith and partly through her skill sets nursed in a NHS hospice providing palliative care to those coming to the end of their lives. She was very cynical when League tables began to be produced showing the performance of various Trusts. ‘I must have been an awful nurse, she would say, ‘in fifteen years 75% of my patients died in my care and of the other 25% virtually all died with a few days of going home’. She was, of course, a superb nurse who brought comfort and hope to hundreds of patients and their relatives, and even now 30 plus years since she left nursing she is still fondly remembered by many.
Her job she would say was to make death as fearless, painless and dignified as was possible for the patients and their loved ones; death she always said is part of life, inevitable and most importantly is not an end but a stage on a journey.
Karl Barth wrote “we must consider that we shall die; otherwise we cannot be wise”. Barth is considered to be the greatest and most influential theologian since Thomas Aquinas who asked God for:
‘A steadfast heart which no unworthy affection may drag down, an unconquered heart which tribulation cannot wear out, an upright heart that no unworthy purpose may tempt aside.’ A heart/courage that would support his faith throughout life and on into death.
It has been erroneously said that the consideration of death is the principle activity of Christianity, but that is far from the case. A competent tennis player or rugby player, for example, knows exactly where the boundaries of the court or pitch are but he or she does not spend the game thinking about them, but rather thinks only of how to play the game to the best of their ability within those boundaries.
Soren Kierkegaard is often called The Gloomy Dane with good cause but he wrote about the times we consider God and our mortality; “when the thought of God awakens in our hearts let it not be like a frightened bird flying in dismay, but rather like a child awakening from a dream with a heavenly smile”.
As Paul tells his friends in Corinth we shall not sleep, but we will be changed to what God intended for us all along.
Lord God our loving Father. may we live our lives to the full knowing the boundaries but enjoying and using every inch of the field you have given us in your never ending love.
In your Mercy hear our prayer,